Well, here we are. The COVID19 pandemic still has its grip on the world, even in Germany, whose response has been one of the best in the world. This UK-based writer has barely left his house in two months.
And yet, somehow, 16 teams got the ball rolling in the 2. Bundesliga again this weekend. Almost as unthinkable as [spoiler]Palpatine’s resurrection[/spoiler].
It wasn’t a normal matchday – it couldn’t be without any fans at the games – and yet, the league reverted to type. There were plenty of goals, late drama and surprise results, especially on Sunday, with some other curious goings on.
Here’s five things of interest from the first weekend back.
Ghost games a success?
All eight games passed without noticeable incident, with fan groups being praised for not interfering with the much-spoken of ‘concept’ of holding these games in a sterile environment. It was strange to watch on TV, especially from grounds where you would expect a great atmosphere.
In the game between Karlsruher SC and SV Darmstadt 98, when the pre-game music went off, it felt like time to go, not time for kick-off. A match report from Fürth put that “the quiet before the whistle felt like a minute’s silence.”
Of course, the only they will only really be a success is if all of the players, coaches, officials and other personnel involved managed to avoid contracting the virus. We won’t know that until the next round of testing.
Sky miss Hofmann goal
Sky Sport in Germany are often criticised for the ambivalence of their coverage of the 2. Bundesliga, such as the half-time ‘analysis’ lasting less than 30 seconds at times (due to showing it live on all games, regardless of how far apart the first halves finished).
And thanks to their latest blunder, you had to be in the stadium to see Philipp Hofmann’s opening goal for Karlsruhe on Saturday. Ah.
Viewers on Sky were stuck with a compilation of Bundesliga goals for five minutes. And from social media, it appears this happened on all four games at the same time. Well played.
Mario Gómez sums up Stuttgart’s season
VfB Stuttgart’s promotion hopes took a blow as they were beaten, for a second time this season, by struggling Wehen Wiesbaden. The award of Phillip Tietz’s controversial winning penalty was described by Sven Mislintat as “a scandal,” however the words of Mario Gómez could have been about any number of Stuttgart games this season.
“We appeared like a top team in the first half, but we missed the opening goal,” said the former Germany international, who missed one of their best chances himself. “After the change of ends lost our style and offered the opponent too many spaces,” he added.
Stuttgart are, on paper, the strongest team in the league, but so often this season they haven’t made the most of the talent and opportunities at their disposal. At least here Wehen managed the victory with 31% possession, instead of just 15% as in the reverse fixture in October.
Frank Schmidt, Trainer-Fährer
Most teams travelled with two coaches this weekend to ensure adequate social distancing. 1. FC Heidenheim, however, took a different approach, with mini-buses instead. And it was all hands on deck, with head coach Frank Schmidt and some of the other staff going behind the wheel.
“Since we all have a driver’s license, we said we would do it ourselves,” said Schmidt to Sky. “And we arrived safe and sound in Bochum.” It wasn’t much use though, as they proceeded to lose 3-0 to VfL Bochum.
Not good, not bad, just ugly
Hannover 96 were in the unique position of not playing due to no fault of their own this weekend. With the game against the quarantined Dynamo Dresden postponed, they only have to go into their own pre-restart quarantine this week, however on Monday morning they were met by an unwelcome visitor.
“Ernie”, a ‘well-known exhibitionist’ in Germany, was there to greet them as they arrived. Coach Kenan Kocak was able to keep the required two metres from him, but that probably wasn’t far enough to miss Ernie, erm, fully exposing himself. I’ll spare you the picture from Bi*d.